The meaning of – Beggars can’t be choosers

Over the years, I have found that most English learners love English expressions and idioms so I try to share a few of the more commonly used ones so that you can extend your English vocabulary. But I do think it’s important to use this kind of English vocabulary correctly otherwise your English will sound worse rather than better! So have a read of the examples below and learn how to use it in everyday conversation:

Firstly, it’s important to know that a beggar is somebody who typically lives on the street and asks others to give them money.
Based on that, we use beggars can’t be choosers to say that if you haven’t got much money, you might have to accept a cheaper product because you can’t afford a more expensive one. However, we also use it to emphasize that you might have to accept a situation you are not happy with because you are not in a position to complain, even if that is not related to money.

Perhaps you would really like a new winter coat but the one you want is too expensive so you have to buy a cheap one from the supermarket because beggars can’t be choosers.
Perhaps you are looking for a job as a waiter but the restaurant offers you a job cleaning dishes. You are desperate for a job so you have to take the dishwasher job because beggars can’t be choosers.
Perhaps your Mum offers to babysit for you so you can go out. You want her to come on Saturday night but she can only do Tuesday. You accept Tuesday because you really need a night out and beggars can’t be choosers!

You say to your friend:

I really wanted that coat I saw in Harrods but this coat will have to do because beggars can’t be choosers I guess.

Your Mum says to you:

Well if you want a babysitter, it will have to be Tuesday. Beggars can’t be choosers you know!

Can you think of any other situations when you might use this English expression? Send me your answers or pop them in the comments boxes below 🙂

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

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